Dude, does this selfie make me a narcissist?

Posted at 7:48 AM, Jan 09, 2015

By: Brandon Griggs for CNN

He stands bare-chested and preening before a mirror while holding up his phone to best capture his gleaming pectorals.

His head is tilted provocatively and his eyes are trying to seduce the camera. Yikes, he’s even striking a “Blue Steel” pose.

OK, so this may be an exaggeration.

But if you spend much time on Facebook, Instagram or Tinder, you’ve seen this guy or someone like him (ahem, Justin Bieber or James Franco) — a dude so enamored of his own looks that most of his photo posts are selfies.

Now, a new academic study is confirming what many observers have long suspected: Men who post lots of selfies are more likely to be narcissists. Some even show psychopathic traits.

“It’s not surprising that men who post a lot of selfies and spend more time editing them are more narcissistic, but this is the first time it has actually been confirmed in a study,” said Jesse Fox, assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University and a lead author of the report.

“The more interesting finding is that they also score higher on this other anti-social personality trait, psychopathy, and are more prone to self-objectification,” Fox said.

In other words, many of these guys believe they are more attractive than other men, show a lack of empathy for others and value themselves mainly for their appearance. (You know, like some of your ex-boyfriends.)

The study is based on data from 800 men, ages 18 to 40, who completed an online survey asking about their photo-posting behavior on social media. The men also completed standard questionnaires for anti-social behaviors and for self-objectification.

The study didn’t include women because the data was not available for them, although Fox says she has conducted a follow-up survey with college women that shows similar findings.

Other studies have explored the link between social media and narcissism, but Fox says hers is the first to focus on men who post selfies.

“One thing people forget is that narcissism is not just about self-absorption; it’s driven by insecurity,” said Fox in an email to CNN. “This makes a lot of sense in terms of posting selfies because social networking sites allow people to get comments or ‘likes’ on their pictures. Narcissists need that social validation.”

Her research doesn’t mean that men who post a lot of selfies are necessarily narcissists or psychopaths, Fox said. The men in the study all scored within the normal range of behavior, but with higher than average levels of these anti-social traits.

The survey asked how often men posted photos but also whether they edited their photos through filters or other tools before posting.

“Most people don’t think that men even do that sort of thing, but they definitely do,” Fox said.

What she found most interesting, Fox said, was the link between selfies and self-objectificiation. People who scored higher on self-objectification posted more selfies, which led to more feedback from friends online, which encouraged them to post even more photos of themselves.

“Self-objectification is when you start seeing yourself as an object and don’t really value yourself as a person, and it has a lot of negative outcomes including depression, eating disorders, and diminished cognitive performance,” she told CNN. “Self-objectification has long been observed in women, and it’s interesting to see it emerge here with men.”

Fox conducted the study with Margaret Rooney, a graduate student at Ohio State. Their results are published online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.